By Cara L. Dempski
COLFAX — The Colfax High School ice fishing team, the “Ice Vikes,” can add another nice win to their resume for 2017.
The fishing team learned in early May that it had won first place in the 2016-2017 Berkeley Fishing “Team Red” competition.
The nationwide competition challenges high school and college students to complete community service tasks, record individual activities involving fishing or conservation, hold club/team meetings, report on competitions, and keep working to learn new things and improve skills.
[emember_protected] The grand prize team is awarded $4,000, second place receives $2,000, and third place gets $1,000.
The Colfax team won third place last year after a last minute push by a pair of other teams knocked them out of the first-place seat the Vikings had occupied most of the year.
Mike Dombrowski, the Ice Vikes’ coach and advisor said this was only the team’s second year competing in Team Red competition. He explained Berkeley puts on the challenge for high school and college students with the support of several other fishing and sporting goods companies.
“They ask you to do challenges. Some of them are to discuss tactics and strategies, some are holding team practices. One is updating and taking a photo of your tackle box and explaining what’s in there,” Dombrowski stated.
Team members can even earn points for posting pictures on Instagram with certain hashtags, and it is all in the name of promoting fishing and being active outdoors.
“Some of the challenges are physical challenges, like a line-collecting station,” Dombrowski noted. “One was a waterway clean-up, which we did, just picking up trash as part of the community clean-up.”
The ice fishing team played heavily into Colfax’s big win, since the team could log in to the challenge website after every tournament to record where they had fished, what they were fishing for, and how many fish were caught.
Teams are awarded points based on how many team members complete each challenge task. For instance, if only half the team attended a team meeting (worth 500 points), then the team would earn only 250 points for the task.
Dombrowski said he and the team sat down and wrote out a list of things they need – and want – and were surprised at just how far the $4,000 grand prize stretched.
Chace Peterson, a member of the Ice Vikes team who has been hunting and fishing with his family since he was a young child, said he was happy to spend the $363 allotted to him on some high-quality equipment.
“It was pretty nice to win, and it was worth it,” Peterson said of the work to log in. “It was hard finding time to do it. The fishing was the easy part. I got $360 to spend on fishing stuff I wouldn’t usually buy.”
In Peterson’s case, his chunk of the prize money was used to buy some high-quality items for himself, and said he had a hard time figuring out where he would spend it all. He got four new poles, some line, bait, and some line spoons.
One of Peterson’s teammates, Jackson Hellmann, said the prize money could very well teach him some new skills, as he used part of his $363 to purchase a fly rod and reel and try his hand at fly fishing.
“I like to trout fish, so I bought myself a nice trout rod,” Hellmann stated. “And then, that fly rod too to try that out.”
Dombrowski said it is kind of fun to give the Ice Vikes team a chance to do different things and try their skills in new ways.
Hellmann noted the items are not things he would go buy for himself, but he was happy to have the prize money so he could purchase something he wanted instead of having to decide what he needed.
The coach said other students have seen the new items come to the school in the past and get interested in the fishing team. This year, the Ice Vikes ordered 63 different items with their prize money and are looking forward to their new rods, reels, lures, lines, waders, and bait. [/emember_protected]